Origin of Accounting

3836 WordsJul 2, 200616 Pages
Accounting historians have attempted to relate their knowledge of the variety of accounting practices at various points of time, and in various places. It is to wider questions of the role of accounting in reflecting and shaping not only business and management practice, but also economic and social organization more generally. Finley's classic ¡§The Ancient Economy¡¨ , which analyzed the embedded-ness of ancient economic activity in the social structure, and in the status concerns of the free citizens, as constituting a brake on the development of profit-focused markets and correspondingly on technology and trade. It saw the state of ancient accounting as itself making impossible sophisticated profit-oriented calculation and rational…show more content…
Writing, for example, is as old as civilization itself, but arithmetic ¡V the systematic manipulation of number symbols ¡V was really not a tool possessed by the ancients. Rather, the persistent use of Roman numerals for financial transactions long after the introduction of Arabic numeration appears to have hindered the earlier creation of double-entry systems. Nevertheless, the problems encountered by the ancients with record keeping, control and verification of financial transactions were not entirely different from our current ones. Governments, in particular, had strong incentives to keep careful records of receipts and disbursements ¡V particularly concerning taxes. And in any society where individuals accumulated wealth, there was a desire by the rich to perform audits on the honesty and skill of slaves and employees entrusted with asset management. But the lack of the above-listed antecedents to double entry bookkeeping made the job of an ancient accountant extraordinarily difficult. In societies where nearly all were illiterate, writing materials costly, numeration difficult and money systems inconsistent, a transaction had to be extremely important to justify keeping an accounting record. Five thousand years before the appearance of double entry, the Assyrian, Chaldaean-Babylonian and Sumerian civilizations were flourishing in the Mesopotamian Valley, producing some of the oldest known records of commerce. In this area
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